Complementary & Alternative Medicine

Complementary & Alternative Medicine | Fertility | RSC Bay Area

Not too many years ago a patient’s condition would be treated with a prescription or even an operation. This was medicine. With the rise of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Western culture in recent years, doctors have begun to rethink how medicine is practiced.

Medical professionals still consider family history, social behavior and environment in assessing and prescribing remedy for an ailment. But where traditional remedies of Western medicine once dominated alternative medicine now stands abreast: fish oil may supplement a pharmaceutical drug to reduce the risk for heart disease; the elimination of gluten from one’s diet may replace a synthetic enzyme for digestive issues; or meditation may be prescribed to manage stress levels from the hustle of a 60-hour workweek.

As defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, integrative medicine “combines mainstream medical therapies and CAM (complement and alternative medicine) therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.”

As an example, in the integrative medicine model, a Reproductive Endocrinologist would counsel a patient with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) on weight loss and dietary changes as appropriate before prescribing medication to aid in ovulation.

Integrative medicine is “patient-centered” – taking into account patients’ cultural traditions, personal preferences and values, social circumstances and lifestyles while focusing on prevention and wellness.

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Acceptance and role in fertility

Integrative medicine accepts that patients want to participate and have an active role in their healthcare. Research shows:

  • 40 to 50 percent of adults use some form of CAM in the United States
  • Roughly 50 percent of adults use supplements
  • 18 to 20 percent of adults currently use herbal preparations
  • More than 50 percent of patients who are receiving conventional therapy are also using CAM; however, only 30 to 40 percent of those patients disclose their use of CAM to physicians

As many of our patients at RSC are already utilizing supplements and other CAM modalities, it is important to have a practitioner who can provide professional guidance. The primary responsibility of an integrative medicine specialist is to facilitate treatments that are effective and safe.

IM assessment at Reproductive Science Center

In order to obtain the greatest benefit from integrative medicine, it is important to perform a full and comprehensive integrative assessment.  Such an evaluation looks not only at medical and family history, but also lifestyle including exercise, nutrition and diet, supplement use, environment and spirituality.

Typically, a patient/couple will complete a detailed questionnaire before his or her initial consult. The first appointment will last one hour with a follow-up visit of 30 minutes, two to four weeks later.